spread-eagle (n.)

literally "splayed eagle," 1560s, a heraldic term, from past-participle adjective of spread (v.). Common on signs, flags, etc; the colloquial term was from split crow. The figure is on the seal of the United States (hence spreadeagleism "extravagant laudation of the U.S.," 1858). Meaning "person secured with arms and legs stretched out" (originally to be flogged) is attested from 1785.

updated on October 10, 2017

Definitions of spread-eagle from WordNet
spread-eagle (v.)
stretch out completely;
They spread-eagled him across the floor
spread-eagle (v.)
stretch over;
His residences spread-eagle the entire county
spread-eagle (v.)
execute a spread eagle on skates, with arms and legs stretched out;
spread-eagle (v.)
stand with arms and legs spread out;
spread-eagle (v.)
defeat disastrously;
Synonyms: spreadeagle / rout
spread-eagle (adj.)
with arms and legs stretched out and apart;
lay spread-eagle on the floor
From, not affiliated with etymonline.